The Supreme Court Decision

February 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

I realize this is now old news but it is worth mentioning that the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court placing Rahm on the ballot is going to have far reaching consequences.  Justices Freeman and Burke appear to be the only members of the court with any vision:

Suffice it to say, therefore, that this court has not always spoken clearly on what is meant by residency, and the majority should acknowledge this fact. This is why both sides in this dispute can contend that their respective positions are supported by decades of precedent. Indeed, contrary to the majority’s assertions, the only thing that is well established in this case is the confusion that has existed on this subject. The majority today now makes clear that residency for all purposes is the equivalent of domicile. The majority, therefore, should overrule those portions of Pope, Park, and Clark which hold to the contrary.  …

Finally, it should be noted that today’s decision will raise questions beyond the facts of this case. Because the court holds that residency has one settled meaning, and that meaning rests on a person’s intent, today’s decision will have implications for residency requirements for in-state tuition, residency requirements for municipal employees such as police officers and firefighters, residency requirements for school districts and other similar situations. This court should be prepared to address those issues as firmly and expeditiously as we have done today.

I can tell you that the police officers I know are already moving forward, with or without, the FOP to begin taking advantage of this decision.  Chicago police and firefighters will no longer have to live within the city limits as long as they express any intent to someday return.  I’m sure that was not the intent of this decision, but that’s where we stand.

So, what’s going to happen now?  Sometime over the next few years a police or firefighter residency case will wind its way through the courts.  And when it gets to the Illinois Supreme Court, my prediction is that it will find some way to reverse itself on this decision.

This decision is for Rahm and Rahm alone.  This decision will forever be know as Rahm’s law.  It applies to no one else.

This is the sorry state of politics in Illinois.  Someday I’ll write more about why judges should not be elected.  I will use this case as the starting point of the discussion.

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§ 2 Responses to The Supreme Court Decision

  • Matt says:

    I’m not entirely sure about that, although I have heard some firefighters and cops joking about moving out of the city now.

    I’m not sure if that would be allowed because
    – Rahm still owned his house and maintained legal residency in Chicago in all forms.
    – He left with a clear purpose (to serve the President) with a clearly defined date of return (when he left the position or when the president’s term(s) were up).

    So if a police officer or firefighter wanted to move out of the city, they would definitely have to maintain some form of legal residence in the city. What I’m not sure about is how the law works with “intent”. I’m pretty sure the standard is a bit more strict than just being able to say “I intend to return some day”. Rahm had very explicit intent, both in why he left Chicago and when he would return. I’d imagine the court has some sort of standard, however vague it may be, for determining intent.

    And it may not even have to go to the courts. I’m not sure how much weight this issue carries in the city council, but they could pass an ordinance shoring up the wording to make sure that the employees actually live in the city.

  • Jim Bosco says:

    Hey Matt: Glad to have the reading and thank’s for the comment.

    It’s funny, as you wrote, “I’d imagine the court has some sort of standard.” Yes, it did. Right up until this decision.

    If you’re going to armchair quarterback lawyers Matt, you should at least read the decision. 🙂 I don’t have time right now to complete a whole analysis of the decision. Maybe one day in a week or two. We’ll see.

    But I can tell you that a Chicago police officer or firefighter who rents out their condo in the city and moves into the suburbs with their kid will absolutely meet the standard of “resident” under this ruling. It’s a disaster…

    … but of course it’s not. Because it’s only meant to apply to Rahm. No one else. That’s how things work around here.

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